EDUCAUSE 2018: 4 biggest takeaways on the future of IT in higher education

 In IT News/Events, News

Diversity. Inclusion. Encouragement of individual expression. These are just a few things IT professionals were treated to at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference 2018.

And I didn’t even go to any of the keynotes. Walking the tradeshow floor, something dawned on me.

Education is often thought of as behind the curve in technology due to budgetary and resource limitations. Enterprise businesses are assumed to be leading the way since they have a lot more resources, budget, and needs.

There’s one aspect of technology, however, that the enterprise is just coming around to, one that education has embraced for years: Choice.

Choose-your-own-device policies are becoming more common in the enterprise, but schools have always focused on how technology affects their users – their students.

That was on full display at the EDUCAUSE 2018 expo floor, where new and existing technologies catered to specific use cases while offering a variety of choices.

Virtual reality pushed for mainstream acceptance in everyday education. Many vendors at EDUCAUSE sought to showcase how non-mainstream technology could be incorporated in education on a regular ongoing basis. Virtual reality (VR) was especially popular in this respect. Applications for VR included simulating labs where a person might be handling dangerous substances or performing athletic feats. Any areas where certain safety precautions are necessary or a person could benefit from added practice (like surgeries), are made possible with VR.

Experimenting with content management platforms. It’s only a matter of time before we start moving away from the “device” being the central way students consume content and start focusing on the “content” itself. It doesn’t matter what device students are using – iPads, tablets, Surfaces, etc. – the idea is that they’ll be able to get the content they need anywhere. This might not be a new trend, but it’s something software developers are becoming more and more aware of.

Make way for digital texts. College students spend a lot of money on books. That may change, as digital texts are poised to disrupt the education field. There’s now a push toward open content books, where you can download books for free (or for a minimal price) and use them in class.

Still a place for paper notebooks. Things may becoming way more digital, but that doesn’t mean paper products are becoming obsolete. We were giving out notebooks at the conference, and it was amazing how excited people were about getting one — even at a technology conference.

The desire of individuals to use both paper products and digital products was the perfect encapsulation of what EDUCAUSE 2018 was all about. Education embraces choice, promoting environments that enable students to use the methods that work best for them. Talk about an educational experience.

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